Entry – Week #1

I discovered the GSIF and LVSIF programs through an email from the Creative Inquiry Office with its colorful, eye-catching IKIGAI diagram with a slogan reading “your reason for being“. The description of these programs which promised a chance to conduct research as an undergraduate student and actually make a difference was what compelled me to apply. At that time, despite having been almost half a semester into my first year of college, things felt little different to me than high school. I was still going to class everyday, doing small assignments, and taking tests; I was underwhelmed by the triviality of my activities that seemed to have little significance beyond my grades. The reason I decided to attend Lehigh was the fact that they boasted an impressive partnership with the United Nations wherein students had opportunities to represent NGOs among other initiatives. I wanted to be able to do something similar and participate in something with real life implications hence my enrollment in the CINQ 388 course and participation in the LVSIF program. With a project like this, I will be able to reach real people with engineering and have a tangible impact in society as opposed to it only being a personal career. My degree is easily melded to this goal as well. As an IDEAS major with an intended concentration in Computer Engineering, International Relations, and Chinese, this course fits perfectly into the interdisciplinary degree I wish to create. Because this course goes hand in hand with the actual project of developing virtual reality technology for educational purposes, I can envision myself benefiting from not only the lessons on systemic engineering for global issues, but also the process of conducting research on an ever-developing technology. Since this course takes a top-down approach to the core subjects of the projects (such as either UTIs or VR ), I want to take the research experience and use it to build up a foundation for the courses in computer science or computer engineering that I will eventually be taking. That way, I will have an idea of what to expect as I become more involved in different coding languages. It should allow me to find a direction in what I wish to specialize in and can have the most impact on serious issues. As I become increasingly involved in the project and begin to shoulder more responsibilities for the team, I hope to discover how using these types of technologies will be beneficial to social policy in more ways than just education. Moreover, I think this course will deepen my understanding of how these technologies could also cause unintended consequences if they are not marketed sustainably. This is something for me to keep in mind as an essential idea of the IDEAS study program is the role of engineers in society. This is doubly true for me as I aspire to perform such a role on an international scale with global issues. With an issue such as people needing but lacking access to eyeglasses, I think the biggest obstacles are the human resources to measuring visual acuity and actually procuring the required lenses which requires manufacturing power to create glasses for each individual’s specific needs. There is a lack of optometrists in developing countries which is difficult to remedy; a temporary or initial solution may be to develop a very simple, automated eye test that can be easily and cheaply spread through towns. It will not be as reliable as an eye care professional’s diagnosis but it will be more realistic than trying to increase the number of optometrists in developing countries. A headset could be developed that a person can place over their eyes that displays the typical eye chart found in an optometrist’s office with an adaptive test similar to reading and math comprehension exams given to middle school students. Similar to a subject mastery assessment, users would see changes in their displays following their responses to a prompt box that would ask them what letters they can see at varying levels of distance. It would either bring them to a “closer” eye chart if their answers suggest vision impairment and nearsightedness or a “further” eye chart in the case of farsightedness and use this process to generate a prescription. This will provide eyesight diagnoses for individuals who may not be able to see an eye doctor. Getting physical eyeglasses would require some sort of partnership with a manufacturing laboratory or the government to subsidize the cost of the orders through some sort of healthcare policy.



One thought on “Entry – Week #1”

  1. Hi Beigie,
    Good work! I think it’s interesting that you describe not only having a “personal career” in engineering, but one that impacts others. This is an important mindset of being part of society and wanting to have as much positive impact on it as possible. You explore some interesting ideas in your solution to the eye care challenge and might find it interesting to check out the work of Dr. V in India, who successfully did some of the things you suggest: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Govindappa_Venkataswamy

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